Frequently Asked Questions . . . and Answers

Frequently Asked Questions @ SynthesisOur best customers are the ones that ask questions.  So, along with articles in the Library and The Engineer's Perspective, here are several answers to some common questions.

In Engineering, questions are often specific, and some answers just spon more questions.  If that is the case for you, please Contact Us, and let's talk about specifics.  We're happy to take a minute.

Engineering Services Questions

What Are "Engineering" Services?

In context of what we do at Synthesis, Engineering Services are tasks, or consulting, or analysis on technical topics; usually to support businesses with product design, product development, failure analysis (forensics), or manufacturing. The list also includes supply chain support, material choices, and process optimization.

Read about many of the Engineering Services we provide on these pages:

What Is Product Development?

We use this term to describe the process of bringing ideas from first concept all the way into production.  Every new product starts as an idea which grows and morphs and expands as it develops into a final product.  Some products are sold at stores, some solve specific problems, some stay in a factory to make production easier.  These all start with ideas and end up as useful things.

This whole evolution from Idea to Product is called The Product Development Process, and there is a lot to it, much more than most people realize.  It seems like it should be simple, but there are a lot of details that have to be worked out besides the design.

Learn About It

If this is a path you are on, we hope you are getting good advice and possibly some skilled help.  Product development is something Synthesis has been doing for a long time, so let us know if you want some help.  We can guide, or help with bigger portions -- that's all up to you.

Can You Show Some Examples?

We have product development examples of our work all over the website, but some specific places to look are:  The Portfolio (Slide Show), and the Case Studies area of the blog.

Why Hire An Engineering Consultant?

This is a great question, and we have published a few different pages to answer it (along with the many follow-on questions).  Our Engineering Consulting Services page is a great place to start.

The Short Answer:  It maximizes your capabilities with short-term, cost limited, significant expertise.

Read more about Leveraging Your Resources and about Engineering Consulting through Synthesis.

What Are The “Engineering Consulting Services” of Synthesis?

At Synthesis, we provide value in many activities often labeled “Consulting Services”.  These range from phone consultations, to in-depth on-site studies; from solving problems, to failure analysis (Forensics), to design recommendations.  It may sound like a lot, but basically, “Consulting Services” involve knowledge, insight and creativity to help reach your goals.

Can You Show Examples?

We have engineering consulting examples in many areas of the website, but some specific places are:  The Slide Show, the Engineering Consulting page, the Consulting Services page, and Case Studies in the library.

Of course, the best way to know if we can help, is to call.  Ask questions about your situation.  If we can assist, then great.  If not, that's OK too.

How Much Do Engineering Services Cost?

This is a great question, yet a proper answers depend on your specific project.  Here are some guides.

Product Development:

Cost is the single most constraining aspect of Product Development, and it holds back many projects.  However, the cost of Engineering is not usually the biggest.  We understand, it is not cheap to engineer, prototype, develop, or manufacture, so it's important to make good decisions all along the way.  That's one place where Synthesis knowledge and experience can help.

(Side Note:  To properly set the stage, normally the highest costs come after engineering - like patents, launching production, etc..  We have seen these costs at 3X to 5X regularly, and up to 10x the engineering costs.  Of course this depends on your situation, but it is certainly something to prepare for.)

Every new project is different, so without details, we can't guess at the cost for you.  However, we constantly see dozens of ways customers pay too much, and in that alone, we can usually save money.  We'll help you think through options and find ways to minimize your product development.


Again, it's impossible to estimate a project without understanding it.  That said, spending money for consulting to streamline your hurdles and accelerate your project puts you way ahead in the long run.  Also, for shorter projects, it certainly saves money over hiring staff.  Read more on cost benefits.

How It Works:

There are many ways to structure a relationships, but these are the most common:

  1. If the project is well defined from beginning to end, we can work to a Firm, Fixed Price.  We'll agree on services and price, then work to that.
  2. If the project path is not well defined, or if end goals are not definitive, a Time and Materials agreement is usually better.
  3. Custom options are also available, including a mix of the 2 above.  We can make the relationship specific to your situation.

Please call to discuss your project, then we can provide a much better idea on cost.

What We Do, And Don't Do

What Industries Do You Serve?

While we do have a few favorites, the Synthesis paradigm brings innovative thinking beyond traditional boundaries to cross-pollinate many industries.  We serve a spectrum of industries by bringing the brilliance of each to all the others.  Some of our most creative successes come when bringing technology from one industry, then mutating it to enhance another.

See the Design Slide Show and the engineering Case Study Examples for a perspective.

The Full Answer, along with examples from some of our favorite industries, are in This Article.

Do We Serve In Your Industry?

The best way to know is to ask.   We welcome questions and comments about industry and about how we can best serve you.

Do You Engineer HVAC Systems?  Or Building Structures?

Thank you for asking.  Buildings, HVAC and other such systems are a specialties in Mechanical Engineering or Civil Engineering.  Unfortunately, those are not areas where we work.  We are not trained in the regulations surrounding such systems.  Sorry we can't help with these.

Can You Give An Engineering Certification To My Design?

These are important questions with all the many variations.  Hopefully, this answer covers your needs.  However, depending on your position in industry, you may find the response a little pointed.  We apologize.

Engineering Certifications

We congratulate all who create and seek for a sound design.  That said, there is a common misconception that an engineering 'Stamp' covers it.  Knowing the approvals you need in your situation is important.

For some products, the necessary approvals come from testing like CE or UL or other associations.  That is different than "engineering approval".  In other situations, product inspection is the certification (like a trailer build).  And, for a few, a Professional Engineer's Stamp is required.  Feel free to ask questions.

Professional Engineers

At Synthesis we believe the concept of having licensed professionals is a worthy endeavor.  Since engineering touches on so many things of a critical nature, there is a need for such professionals.  However, and it is a BIG however, the way it is fulfilled in our society misses the mark, and not by a little.

It is disappointing, but in our work we've dealt with too many incompetent Professional Engineers (PE's), and we don't want association with their reputation.  (Obviously, there is more to the story.)  It's unfortunate, but it seems the system is made to harbor incompetence mixed among the good engineers.

That said, we don't have a 'Stamp', don't want a 'Stamp', and don't do the work requiring one.  Actually, very few things require it.  Creative thinking, innovation, problem solving, common sense, troubleshooting and most design & development does not require a 'Stamp'.  In those areas, we are happy to help.

Can You Certify My Design?

People often ask us to 'Stamp' or approve their design.  While we recognize great design comes from many sources, engineering evaluations do require a close look.  We do analysis, and we are happy to review a design, but if your application requires a 'Stamp' for 'Certification', we are not the right choice.

Along the same lines, we do Product Design and Development including Custom Machines and other product related Engineering Services.  We DON'T do buildings, HVAC, bridges, tower cranes, or those kinds of projects.  While they are "mechanical" in nature, that is not the type of Mechanical Engineering we do.  Thank you.

Will You Trade Engineering Services for Equity in my Company?

Believe it or not, we get this question a lot.  New inventors in particular are keen for the success of their new product, and often end up stymied by the cost of both development and production.  We certainly sympathize with this situation, because we've been there.

So, the short answer is "Sometimes", but it is tempered by many factors including the fact that we just don't have the resources to provide free help for everyone.  To address this concern, we have a process and policy to guide us.  In general, we have one such arrangement going at a time, so when we finish it, we are open for another.  Secondly, we allow only a certain percentage of our time for these projects.

If you have a project to discuss, I'm sure the above answer leaves more questions, so let us know.  In the meantime, please read this article about decisions.

What CAD Software Do You Use?

At Synthesis, we do a lot with CAD, and we use a few common CAD systems.  Our favorite is the old Pro/Engineer, but we mostly use Creo (in spite of how PTC has tried to ruin it).  We also have SolidWorks and dabble some with Fusion 360.

That said, for most situations the actual software is not so important, since most CAD programs interact with the common translation formats.  Please Give Us A Call if you have questions about CAD we use.

Inventors, Inventions, Intellectual Property, and Patents

I Invented A New Product.  What Are My Next Steps?

This is a fantastic position!  While the path for each idea is different, the general directions are similar.  To answer the host of questions that inventions bring, start by reading The Product Development Process (all the pages), and The Inventor's Lab.  These articles are written to answer many normal questions.

Then, if you are planning to make a business with your new product, we offer some helpful tips and perspective in this article about Startups.

I Have A New Invention.  Do I Need A Patent?

First, we congratulate you.  Harnessing creativity is not something everyone can do, so that's awesome.

Second, the need for a patent is driven by these questions:

  • Will you sell or licensing the invention?
  • Is it big enough and worth enough to justify spending the money to acquire a patent?
  • Do you have the money for it?

Patents can be a huge financial sink, and just because you get a patent does not mean no one will copy.  Patents are only as good as your pockets are deep.  Yes, if someone does violate your patent, you have the right to go after them, but that can still be very costly.

Recommended Reading

I recommend you read two articles specifically about patents - read When To Patent first, then Patents When Starting A Business.

Consider it carefully.  Prepare your questions in advance, then should seek the guidance of a Patent Attorney.  But remember, they stand to benefit from your dollars, so take their advice with a grain of salt.  Oh, and avoid the "Invention Houses" that promise you the moon, and usually deliver dust.

My Competitor Has A Product With A Patent.  What Can I Do?

A patent is not the end of discussion about new products or even about competitive advantage.  We help customers deal with this situation a lot, and there are many considerations - too much to print in this small space.  Please, read the article here for the complete answer.

How Do I Get A Prototype Made?

Excellent question - with a not so simple answer.  It depends on the kind of prototype (fabric, steel, plastic, . . .), and the purpose for the prototype (functional prototype, show-n-tell, . . .).

Often this question is asked by someone who wants a 3D print, but does not have a CAD model.  3D printing requires a 3D CAD model, and yes, we can help with that. Other kinds of prototypes may or may not require CAD work.  Please contact us and we'll help you figure it out.

If you already have a 3D CAD model, we suggest contacting the 3D printing places directly.  That will save you both time and money.

On the other hand, similar questions often include the need for Product Design & Development.  If you also need detail engineering and design, we can help with that.  Just let us know.

Recommended Reading

You can read a bunch more about prototyping in the Product Development Process article section on Prototypes.  Additionally, we are happy to help with specifics if you Contact Us.

Additional Topics

I Like The Trailer Articles, Do You Have More Tips?

Actually, we have a bunch of Tips and Helps for trailers - and for building all sorts of other stuff too.  The Mechanical Elements website is a feature of Synthesis with a focus on Do-It-Yourself and building things - especially the many articles at the Mechanics Post.  The website is full of great information and ideas. is a DIY web portal.  It's a website for Trailer Plans and much more.  Read the Mechanical Elements About page for more info.

How Long Has Synthesis Been In Business?

Synthesis started in 1995, and we have served hundreds of customers since then.  We love what we do, and it shows in our work.  I invite you to see our About Page titled "Who Are We?" for a bunch more information.

More Questions?

Questions are good, and we're listening.  Please feel free to ask by dropping us a line on the Contact Us page, and we'll respond as quickly as practical.

Thank you for visiting.

Synthesis Engineering Services

Always Innovative Product Development & Functional Engineering Consulting!

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